Sunday, November 29, 2009

Henry's Miracle

Much to our chagrin, a recent visitor mentioned that we never "talk" about Henry on the blog.  She's right.  Henry's arrival was not a dramatic one.  No starvation.  No neglect. No abandonment.  But Henry's story has developed into a noteable one.

Henry, a retired eventer, arrived at Traveller's Rest about four years ago when his owner encountered very serious family difficulties.  The big chestnut Thoroughbred cross actually came here on what was supposed to be a temporary stopover on his way to another sanctuary.  Watching his reaction to a big change in his life, however, led us to offer Henry permanent sanctuary here rather then subject him to another move in a short time. 

Henry - August 2005

We really didn't know what to think of Henry at first.  In most situations, he was a very kind, affectionate horse, but two aspects of his personality were troubling. The first was that he pinned his ears in a very threatening manner every time someone approached with food.  (Very odd, we thought.  Most horses celebrate the approach of food.) 

The second problem was Henry's behavior around other horses.  He was extremely aggressive, more so with mares than with geldings, and on two occasions drove horses into corners and attacked.  After several attempts, over two years, to find just the right companion, we resigned ourselves to the idea that Henry didn't possess even basic equine social skills that allow most horses to live in herds.  He was set up with his own paddock, with "fence buddies" on three sides, and a shed he could share with other horses, but with separate access doors and a partition between himself and the others.

Two years after his arrival, Henry was diagnosed with Cushings disease.  Was that part of the problem?  We've seen no published information on this, but have observed more than once that extreme irritability in a previously good-natured horse is one of the first signs of Cushings.  Before "the coat."  Before the weight gain.  Before most other observable symptoms. 

Henry before pergolide - March 2006

Henry was started on Pergolide, and seemed to respond in terms of physical symptoms, but he was still very irritated by other horses in close proximity.  At this point, we were very leery of putting another horse's safety at risk and decided Henry was going to be a loner for whatever years he had left.  He seemed content enough on his own, but not entirely happy.

Then, almost a year ago, Henry met a new friend.  A wonderful lady named Carole came into Henry's life.  Carole has attended Reiki workshops at TREES and was attracted to Henry from her first visit.  The two formed a friendship that even observers new to horses noticed. 

When TREES later became a founding shelter member of SARA (Shelter Animal Reiki Association,) Carole signed up as a volunteer and began visiting Henry every week.  The practice of Reiki in human hospitals has been shown to promote healing though relaxation and stress reduction techniques.  Those same techinques helped Henry heal whatever mental or emotional issues he dealt with for several years. 

There was no instant "fix."  No flash of light or fanfare. Carole has been working with Henry for several months.  Gently, steadily, consistently helping him relax and accept things previously deemed out of the question.

The result?

Henry, left, and Josh, right

No matter how you look at Reiki, the results for Henry have been life-changing.  We're forever grateful to Carole for sticking with Henry and giving him the ultimate gift.  He's no longer just content.  He's happy.

For more information on Reiki, see "What is (and isn't) Reiki?"  (Be sure to scroll down to the Fact/Myth chart.)

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